Society of St. Vincent de Paul

In the wake of deteriorating conditions for workers in France during industrialization, Frederic Ozanam (1813–53) and fellow students at the Sorbonne founded a Conference on Charity in May 1833, dedicated to “practical charity.” The conference stressed personal service to the poor through visitations to their homes. In 1835, the conference was formally organized as the St. Vincent de Paul Society in honor of the beloved friend of the poor, St. Vincent de Paul (1580–1660), who had created a vast network of relief for the poor when the people of France were suffering from the aftereffects of lost wars and harvest failures.

The society began forming local chapters in cities all over France, which actively sought out the poorest families and did their best to provide them ...

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